Days 10 and 11

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Day 10: You Win a Trip- Where Do You Go?

If I won a free trip, I would either go to China and South East Asia, or Hawaii. I’ve never been to China, despite being Chinese by heritage, and would love to visit the rural village that my grandparents are all from. Sadly, I don’t even know where these villages are, or what their names are, because I’m second generation Canadian, and anyone who would’ve known has already passed away.

If I were already in Asia, I would also tack on a trip to Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos. These places are the cultural beginnings of my favourite foods, and I would have so much fun just checking out street eats. There’s a travel food vlogger on YouTube (Mark Weins) that I follow, and he mostly travels through Thailand and its surrounding countries, trying out different street vendors.

I would also love to go back to Hawaii, which is my super happy place. The sun, the surf, the warm clear blue ocean, and the easy breezy way of life all call to me. My mother is an island girl, and I think living close to the ocean is in my blood as well.

Day 11: The Last Time I Danced
I am guilty of dancing by myself in the kitchen or living room almost everyday. I also break out some choice dance moves in the car. I’ve danced every single day since our embryo transfer. I just needed to keep this IVF light, happy, and carefree. I love music, so I try to have a Songza playlist going while I am doing household chores, or cooking. I love fun and upbeat playlists, especially when doing any cleaning. At night, I tend to go for something more mellow.

IVF#2: 10DP5DT: Beta HCG

Just a quickie right now to fill y’all in. We drove to the clinic in a near snowstorm this morning, but we had the awesomeness of each other’s company, and good tunes. I fell asleep in the car on the way home, and have been on the edge of a nap ever since.

Finally, a few minutes ago, we got the call. I know that in this process there are many permutations of “the call”- “the call” to let you know you’ve been cleared to start a cycle, to tell you it’s time to trigger, to tell you when you will be egg collecting or embryo transferring, to tell you how many embryos survived to day ____. But today’s call is the one that has had me glued to my phone. Good thing we don’t live in the 80’s or at a time without call waiting.

So here we are, 10 days post embryo transfer, and my beta HCG level is….

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Thank you for your continued support, especially those of you who are also waiting for “the call” that brings good news- at whatever stage you are at. I know how hard it can be. These are exciting yet scary times for us, as you can probably imagine. But right now, in this moment, I am PREGNANT.

Day 9 and Happy Birthday to DW!

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I don’t eat gelato or ice cream often, as sadly, I’m lactose intolerant. However, when I do indulge, my favourite gelato flavour is pistachio. Now, not all pistachio gelato is made equal, and my preference is for the type that has actual pistachio meat incorporated. In fact, I’m usually very disappointed when I try a new gelato place and the pistachio is mostly just extract.

If you’re ever in Toronto, there’s a chocolatier that makes the best truffles and also makes amazing gelato and real hot chocolate. It’s called Soma Chocolate. There are two locations: one in the Distillery District (where we had our wedding reception), and one on King St. near Spadina Ave.

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Now yesterday was a super special day. It was DW’s 39th birthday! Unfortunately, it was a weekday, so she had to spend most of the day at work, but when she got home, we got to spend some time together. Yesterday was also the Lunar New Year (also known as Chinese New Year), and I wanted to combine the two into one celebration by having Chinese hotpot at home. Hotpot is basically a savoury fondue, where you communally cook meat and veggies in a common broth. Our hotpot has two compartments for different broths. DW loves hotpot, and I had plans to do one side miso and the other side homemade Tom yum soup from scratch.

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(A hotpot night from a couple of years ago.)

So I started with getting the Tom Yum soup broth started…

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But about 3/4 of the way through (45 minutes into food prep), I just felt exhausted from my day of running errands. The thought of chopping more veggies, dealing with setting up the hotpot, washing dishes, and etc. made me overwhelmed. So I asked DW if it was okay if we just had the Tom Yum soup for dinner, with no additional hotpot. Of course she said it was fine. The soup itself had prawns and scallops, and was packed with veggies.

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Instead of birthday cake, DW prefers Dairy Queen’s ice cream cake. However, since it was just us two, and I can’t eat ice cream cake, I decided to get her something new:

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DQ Blizzard Cupcakes!

She loved them!

We spent the rest of the evening on the couch, watching TV because we were so tired (she hasn’t been sleeping well either), and put ourselves to bed early. Last night, we both got a great sleep, and woke up this morning refreshed.

I guess this is what birthdays look like when you’re almost 40! (Obviously, I’m kidding. She is a very introverted and low key person in general, so this was perfect for her.)

Here are some of my favourite pictures of my favourite girl.

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IVF#2: 7DP5DT We Couldn’t Wait

So last night DW and I were grocery shopping and bought a box of First Response Early Result tests.

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Luckily, I’ve been busy all day today, so I wasn’t home for the little FRERs to call to me like My Precious and Gollum from Lord of the Rings.

But this evening, they called to me. Their cries got louder and louder.

So we caved.

And I peed.

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Today is 7DP5DT, and it is POSITIVE!

We’re going to test again on Friday, to see that it gets darker (for peace of mind).

Beta is on Saturday, and I’ve got my fingers and toes crossed that we get a good HCG level.

But for now, we are pregnant!

IVF#2: Halfway Through the Ten Day Wait (5DP5DT)

Well, it’s been 5 days since our blastocyst transfer, and really, I don’t have much to report symptom-wise.

I haven’t had any cramps or dizziness like last BFP. I’m not out of breath, or overly tired. I’m peeing my usual 1-2x per night. I am eating like normal again, and there are no signs of OHSS.

All I have noticed is that I’m having trouble regulating my temperature. I’m either freezing cold, or hot like a furnace. Sometimes, my torso feels a couple of degrees hotter than my feet, which can’t seem to get and stay warm.

That’s it.

Being 5DP5DT, I am getting worried. By 7DP5DT, countdowntopregnancy.com says that you are more likely than not to get a true positive if you POAS.

After my retrieval, I only suffered mild OHSS (or not at all). I felt back to normal pretty much the day before my transfer, and better each day since then. I am really grateful that I did not get OHSS despite my high estrogen levels and 30-something growing follicles. In fact, I am shocked. Part of it I’m sure is thanks to the Dostinex that they put me on, and I also believe that my high sodium and high protein diet for a few days before and after retrieval helped too. I have been secretly hoping for some OHSS to reappear, as a way of tipping me off that we may be getting a BFP, but so far, I feel fine.

This TWW started off really low stress, and I’ve been lucky enough to have my wife at home this weekend for three days (Family Day Holiday in Ontario, Canada). I finally got back to hiking in the snow with her and the dogs on Saturday (Valentine’s Day), and have been trying to keep fun music on in the background at home because it keeps my mood light. I am happy to report that I have busted into fabulously fun, but totally embarrassing dance parties daily in our living room. Juno the dog watches me and barks when my dance moves get a little too funky. I also devoured Gillian Flynn’s Sharp Objects, which I have found to be her most twisted book of her three best sellers. I really enjoyed it though, and am on some female author murder mystery kick right now.

My anxiety has stayed relatively low since the transfer, until today. Somehow, being at this halfway point, an obsession with POAS has set in. I have been googling and Instagram searching days by #DP5DT, and I’m driving myself mad. I didn’t mention this last month, but in January, my anxiety seemed to peak again, and I decided that I couldn’t cope without some pharmaceutical intervention. I was super close to starting the Cipralex that had been calling my name since I filled the prescription, but wanted to wait until I felt safe and pregnant. A work friend reached out to me last month, complaining about how terrible of a time she is having at our school (she was also transferred there at the same time as me), and how she basically feels bullied by everyone except one or two other teachers. Hearing her share her unhappy experiences triggered some of my PTSD from September, where I had visions of crying in the staff washroom between teaching classes, wiping blood off the toilet seat as I was miscarrying, inserting my Endometrin suppositories so deep that my cervix ached because I was so desperate for the bleeding to stop. I remember talking to my vice principal about how a student physically threatened me, only to have him wave it off as “his bark is bigger than his bite”. I felt unsafe in that school, and unfortunately, I don’t feel any better about returning right now than I did when I miscarried. My leave is up at the end of this month, and I’m terrified to go back there. As of today, I’m back to having daytime anxiety fixations about it, and because I don’t want to start the Cipralex yet, I have really no way to cope. I have an appointment with my therapist this Wednesday, and plan to see my family doctor either this week or next week, because I can feel the anxiety ramping up again. When it comes, I feel debilitated. I do illogical things, like peel the skin and cuticles off of my fingers, layer by layer, until they bleed. I become absentminded, and unable to multitask. My fixations start during the day, as daydreams, and as they get worse, they consume more and more of my day until they start to prevent me from sleeping. Once I stop sleeping, I stop eating. I dwell deeper and deeper until I am unable to even maintain a conversation with my wife because I’m consumed by my anxiety. I’m not there yet, but my anxiety at the stage where it is starting to take up more real estate, and I am scared.

So yeah. Anyways…

I have decided to POAS on Thursday, which will be 8DP5DT, and happens to be DW’s birthday. This could be the best birthday present ever, or send us both off on a shitty tone for the rest of the day.

Anyways, please send me some hope and positivity. I can tell that I’m on the verge of sliding into an anxiety pit soon, with work and the uncertainty of whether I am pregnant or not. Thank you all for your support. I’m sorry to have to bring my anxiety back into the mix, but it’s a big part of my struggle right now.

IVF#2: Embryo Transfer

The sun was shining this morning as I woke up to my beautiful wife. Lazy mornings with her are my favourite. She is an early riser, but stays in bed and reads the news until I wake up.

The pace of the morning was very relaxed. It was a nice contrast to the stress and anxiety that I felt all day yesterday. DW came home last night after a long day at school, as she volunteers to open the workout gym for the kids for a couple of hours. She hadn’t even changed out of her work clothes before I was sitting on the carpet, bawling my eyes out.

The stress of two plus years of actively TTC, four failed IUIs, four failed embryo transfers, three miscarriages, and one last IVF which was proving to be less fruitful than the first IVF finally broke me. DW shared how she feels lost in all of it too. Together, sitting in the middle of the floor, dogs licking the tears off of our faces, we both admitted that we’ve reached our limits. Infertility has sucked too much happiness and enjoyment out of our lives.

After that session with my wife, I felt tremendously better. We decided that whatever happens to our embryos on day 5, happens, and that we will be okay. We will roll with it. DW also said though, that she has a good feeling about our transfer tomorrow.

Fast forward to today.

I started the morning with awesome dog cuddles.

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I wore a lavender dress with black tights and my Tretorn boots.

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I was way more relaxed for embryo transfer today than any other transfer, which was ironic because today’s was a fresh transfer and all of my other ones have been frozen ones. What I mean is, I just had my vagina stabbed multiple times just five days ago, laying on the same table! Whether it was the awesome songs playing on our drive to the clinic (Uptown Funk, Riptide), the sun shining outside, or the fact that we’ve been through so many transfers now that it has become like a routine, I felt super chill. I was chatty and joking around all the nurses, I didn’t cry when the phlebotomy nurse spent several minutes rooting around in my arms trying to find a vein, and I wasn’t rushing around or impatient.

The transfer itself went great too- I practiced some deep breathing during the insertion of the catheter, and took a moment to welcome the embryos into my body before they were transferred. There was no pain or cramping, unlike all of my other transfers.

We transferred these two beauties:

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Here they are in my uterus:

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Our beta isn’t until Feb 21st. I hope we get some good news. Now to keep my mind occupied until then…..

Thank you all for your continued support. Each and every single one of your likes and comments means a lot to us. I feel so much gratitude right now.

IVF#2: Embryo Development Day 4

Last year, this is where the major short listing happened, as we went from 11 embryos on day three to 8 embryos on day four.

Yesterday, I informed you that all fertilized embryos were still alive and kickin’. However, their grades weren’t all the same:
6 graded good
5 graded average
2 graded poor

I figured that we would probably have one or two less than last IVF make it to the day four compacted morula stage.

But I was wrong.

And I’m about to cry.

Of the 11 day three (good and average graded) embryos from yesterday….

FOUR were compacting.

How the hell did we go from 11 to 4?
Last year we went from 11 to 8!

I have made so many changes to try to produce better quality eggs (no evidence that my egg quality was a problem even) this time around, like:
– supplements
– minimal exercise
– more sleep
– Chinese herbs
– no coffee
– less sugar
– more fat

So WTF?????!

The embryologist said, “Hopefully, we will have 1 or 2 to transfer tomorrow.”

Last year we had SEVEN blastocysts.

She said that the remaining embryos are still alive, and could just be slow growers. Some could become day 6 blastocysts. There are a couple that have a lot of fragmentation, so they are unlikely to progress further even though they are still alive. She didn’t really seem to want to carry on talking to me, or giving me details like she had in previous phone calls.

I guess no one likes to be the bearer of bad news.

Please please please universe, help all four of my morulas keep growing and thriving so that they can come home where they belong. Send love to the embryos who have fallen behind so that they too, have a fighting chance.

Friends, please send me hope, peace, and positivity, as I can feel my anxiety spiralling out of control already. I don’t want to relive the hell that was IVF#1. This is my chance to restore hope in the things out of my control. Thank you.

PS- my OHSS has gotten a bit worse again. There’s no pain now, but my weight is up 2lbs, my circumference up 2cm, and I drank more than I peed out yesterday.

IVF#2: Embryo Development Day 3

So last year, we had 14 fertilized embryos on day 1, 11 of which survived to day 3.

Today, I got an update that all of our embryos are at the appropriate 6-8 cell stage, with one embryo having 10 cells already. Normal for day three is anywhere from 4-10 cells, ideally 8 cells by the end of the day, so we’re good there.

Now, of the entire batch of embryos:
6 are grade 2 (good quality, minimal fragmentation)
5 are grade 3 (average quality, moderate fragmentation)
2 are grade 3-4 (poor quality, a lot of fragmentation)

Judging by the total count of embryos here (13), I’m guessing that the single slow grower from yesterday caught up to the group.

The grading made me a bit nervous though, as I wonder why I don’t have any perfect grade 1 embryos. Is the grade 1 embryo just super rare? Is my egg quality not great, or is the grade 1 embryo a mythical creature like the unicorn?

Everything that I have read says that both the grade 2 and 3 embryos have good implantation potential. And a greater indicator of making it to the blastocyst stage is the embryo making the expected number of cells for its developmental day.

OHSS Watch:

Weight: down 1 pound
Umbilicus circumference: down 1 cm

I got out of bed today, and had minimal problems dressing myself (yesterday, DW had to help me put on my pants and socks- which was actually quite enjoyable). Peeing and pooping still hurt, but changing positions is accompanied by only mild pain now. My ovaries are still sore on palpation, but more like a sore muscle than active inflammation. The bloating is still there, much worse at night, but sleeping and peeing lots overnight seems to bring me back to a less bloated baseline.

DW and I started watching this show called “Transparent”, which has been really fantastic. It’s about a Jewish Patriarch who comes out as transgender to her family of quirky adult children. It’s got this really interesting tone to it. A humorous backdrop, with really deeply somber and tender moments. I’m loving it, and have to try hard to savour each episode rather than binge watch it.

Tonight though, is the Bachelor, and while I object to the whole premise of the show, I can’t seem to look away. Why is there always so much crying?

PS- embryo transfer is happening in T-minus 48 hours!!

IVF#2: Embryo Development Day 2

(Image from: http://www.advancedfertility.com/4cell.htm )
On day 2 of development, embryos should have 4 cells. The grading of them depends on the level of fragmentation.

Of our 13 fertilized embryos:
7 have 4-5 cells, and are graded as good
5 have 4-5 cells, and are graded as average
1 has 2 cells, but is still alive and could catch up

I asked the embryologist to give us daily updates, which they don’t normally do. I am so grateful that she is doing this for us, and appreciate the time she takes to answer our questions.

OHSS watch:
Weight: up 0.2 of a pound
Waist measurement: up 1 cm

How I’m feeling: Ovaries are still sore, especially with movement, peeing and pooping. The Dostinex is still making me super nauseous despite taking it at night and with food. DW made me a great breakfast in bed: GF grilled cheese and soft boiled eggs, with a side of Gravol.

Today, I start all of my embryo transfer meds:
– prednisone 10mg
– endometrin (progesterone suppositories)- 100mg x 3 times a day
– prometrium (progesterone orally)- 300m at bedtime
– Fragmin injections

*TMI Warning*
Shoving the Endometrin in my vagina was a real treat this morning (not!). My vagina is clearly still in the early stages of healing after all the egg retrieval punctures. I couldn’t get the suppository more than two inches inside, because everything was clenched and hurt.

I’m a little worried about the Prednisone, because last time (failed FET) it caused major comfort food cravings, as well as water retention. This time, I’m trying to stave off OHSS, and the last thing I need is to crave bad food and retain water. However, a nice therapeutic effect of the prednisone is that it made my digestive issues go away. Honestly, my usual IBS and Celiac issues seem to go away when I’m on the Prednisone, which is wonderful.

IVF#2: Day 1 Fertilization Report

So remember my post about fertilizing our eggs via conventional IVF vs. ICSI? Well last year, we had 19 mature eggs, and opted for 1/3 IVF and 2/3 ICSI. Last year we had 14 fertilize.

Today I got a call that out of our 21 eggs collected, 13 were mature, and all 13 fertilized via ICSI.

Now I’m a little upset that only 13 of the 21 were mature. I was hoping for more. However, I am so glad that I posted my dilemma about IVF vs. ICSI, and that with your support and sharing of experiences, DW and I decided to go all ICSI.

I am also glad that I spoke to the embryologist yesterday, and asked her how they select when eggs get IVF’d and which ones get ICSI’d. Apparently, they can only do ICSI on mature eggs, but immature eggs can be fertilized via IVF. So if you choose to do a “split” of ICSI and IVF, they choose the mature ones first for the numbers you’ve designated for ICSI, and the remaining (including immature eggs) are used for IVF. So if you choose to do a split, you may have a greater yield of fertilization because they can utilize those immature eggs, which are still capable of fertilizing. However, if you choose to do all ICSI, you can’t use those immature eggs at all.

OHSS update:

Weight: same as yesterday
Circumference at umbilicus: same as yesterday

I have been in progressively more pain as time passes since the retrieval. I have been popping extra strength Tylenol every four hours, which works, but wears off after about three hours. I woke up in the middle of the night with searing abdominal pain (meds wore off), and had to pee, which hurt like hell. I have been asked by the clinic to track my liquid intake and output, which has been very difficult for me. We have a measuring cup in the bathroom for that, and I always forget at the time I start to pee. Plus, the perfectionist part of me hates not having a very accurate system for measuring liquid from things like vegetables. I also dislike how I’m measuring my intake in millilitres, and my output in cups. I know it’s a simple conversion, but it still bugs me.

Things that hurt: walking (a bit), rolling over in bed, changing position, twisting, putting on pants, putting on socks.

Things that really hurt: coughing, sneezing, peeing, pooping.

So far, it just feels like my ovaries are inflamed from having holes poked in them. However, thankfully, my belly isn’t more distended than on retrieval day. From what I remember though, the OHSS didn’t really show until a couple of days after the retrieval.

Anyways, more salty snacks and soup for me!